CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Kofi Cockburn had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Ayo Dosunmu added 13 points and No. 5 Illinois beat Northwestern 73-66 on Tuesday.
Cockburn got his 14th double-double of the season for the Illini (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten), who took control early in their sixth straight win.
Chase Audige scored 22 points for Northwestern (6-13, 3-12). Pete Nance added 14 points for the Wildcats, who lost their 12th straight.
Illinois led 25-7 but saw its lead cut to two points with 1:30 left. Dosunmu, quiet most of the night, hit a long 3-pointer to ice the win.
Illinois had several early scoring runs despite foul trouble for Cockburn, who sat for all but five minutes of the first half. The Illini shot 60% from the field before the break to Northwestern’s 37% and led 38-26 at halftime.
Northwestern regrouped, going on a 14-4 run to cut the lead to four points. Illinois’ Trent Frazier hit a 3-pointer and Cockburn followed with a layup.
After needing overtime to beat Nebraska 77-72 last Friday, the Illini needed an easy win against another unranked team. Although things tightened late, that mission was mostly accomplished, and Illinois got valuable playing time for bench players that could pay dividends with three tough road games upcoming.
Illinois should remain in the top five and could even move up a spot or two depending on how the top four play this week.
Northwestern: Hosts Wisconsin on Sunday.
Illinois: Begins a three-game road stretch against Minnesota on Saturday. The Illini are scheduled to play four of their final five games away from State Farm Center.